People gather at the site of a suicide bombing in the southern port city of Aden, Dec. 18, 2016.
People gather at the site of a suicide bombing in the southern port city of Aden, Dec. 18, 2016.

A suicide bomber killed at least 48 Yemeni soldiers Sunday in the southern port city of Aden, as top Arab and Western diplomats met in neighboring Saudi Arabia to discuss the conflict in Yemen.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes amid the turmoil of a civil conflict that has turned into an air campaign led by Riyadh.  The extremist group had earlier said it carried out a similar explosion in Aden a week ago that killed at least 45 soldiers and wounded dozens more.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Saudi Arabia meeting King Salman as well as with foreign ministers gathered to discuss the war in Yemen with U.N. Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

WATCH:  Kerry on Finding Path to Peace in Yemen

Repeated international attempts to mediate a peace agreement between Houthi rebels, who overran the Yemen capital in late 2014 and pushed the country's president into exile in Riyadh, and pro-government forces, have failed.

Saudi Arabia heads a coalition that is fighting against the Houthis, primarily through an air campaign and naval blockade.

Kerry's visit to the Gulf comes at a strained time for the relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

WATCH: Secretary of State Kerry on US-Saudi relations

The White House said last week it would block the sale of some military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said last Tuesday the Obama administration has "long expressed some pretty significant concerns about the high rate of civilian casualties in Yemen," adding that "many of those casualties have been as a result of operations carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in the region."

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday denied reports about the U.S. limiting military support over Yemen.



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